It's cold and grey, very grey. Everything looks and feels quiet, like being outside after a fresh snowfall. White smokey mist hangs in the trees all day long. Clouds take on the color of the darkened sea and are heavy overhead. The quality of the light is sharp and glinting making the mountains appear closer than they are.

Ready to go, boats packed with extra dry bags of clothing just in case. My boots an extra size up to accommodate my large wool socks inside my dry suit. I am wearing a wool cap, and starting with gloves, but I have an extra pair of mittens in my day hatch in case my fingers get too cold. The weather forecast is for light winds possibly picking up to SE in the late afternoon to 10 knots, and it feels like it might rain.

Paddling to Sucia, one of our favorite winter destinations. Today is an easy day paddle 2.5 nautical miles out and 6 around and 2.5 NM back. We waited and planned ahead for a clear day to cross, in between synoptic low pressure systems reportedly coming and ones just past. The sun locked away behind the tangible grey.

© photo by John Flemming

Our exhaling breath breaks the silent air in spacey puffs that disappear immediately. Rhythmic paddles drip water and alert the wintering birds that we are coming. A Common Pacific Loon and a common Murre pop up before us surprised at the intrusion. Both are black and white, but a slender profile and delicate dark eye lines gives the Murre away. The sound of 3 harbor porpoises popcorn breathing and graceful arching dives catches our attention off our port side. A solitary eagle flies low over our heads in the direction of the purple hued Mt. Baker.

A hodgepodge of brown, red, white and black colors and shapes floats by not too worried about our group. Harlequins in full winter plumage capture the attention of our cameras and our curiosity.

© photo by John Flemming

Stopping to make hot coffee and eat Snickers bars at Fox Cove, warming our newly cold hands by a small beach fire. The summer-time crowds have gone. We prepare to circumnavigate going around the north side past the wild sandstone formations and kodak color green lichen and moss covered rocks.

Paddling is keeping us warmer, the air temperature a cool 40 degrees does not change at mid-day. Storm cags and beach igloos are constant stowaways in our wintertime kayaks. Seals and a river otter cruise the rocky north shore cliffs. A distinct easterly breeze greets us as we round the corner into Ewing Cove. We decide to cut the distance short and make for Johnstone Point where in winter's past icicles form on the rocks.

© photo by John Flemming

Winter weather has the prerogative to change quickly and we do not want to get caught out. Our 2.5 NM paddle crossing looks more textured but still within the realm of calm. We keep a steady pace and talk about what we saw. In the moment again and again with each dip of our blades. The cold is no longer noticeable, only the monochromatic sea and sky.

Back to shore as planned, no upsets and worry. It was a beautiful day. Packing up a perfect plan begins to form, lunch and a hot drink at the pub by the fire looking out again at the grey only to be reminded what fun winter paddles can be!

Check out our Winter Paddling Gear selection!


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